/ 24 April 2008

UJ has new plan to counter ‘racist’ attacks

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) will deploy a new security plan after a number of alleged racist attacks on campus in the last week, university management said on Thursday.

”Management has committed to a phased, revamped security plan that will be implemented with immediate effect,” said UJ vice-chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg in a statement.

He said a consultative forum on security has been established between the student representative council, the staff unions and operations staff.

”Management has already decided to investigate possible disciplinary action against individuals who have been implicated in the recent incidents.”

Last week, local South African Students Congress (Sasco) chairperson Xolani Mkhwemnte said there had recently been an outbreak of ”racially motivated incidents” on the UJ’s Kingsway campus.

These incidents, he said, included the beating up of black students by white students in the Egoli bar at Oppierief residence, harassment of black students walking home at night, and verbal and physical abuse of senior black Sasco members.

According to Sasco member Lazola Ndamase, who is also deputy president of the South African Union of Students, the incidents started just after the launch of the ”Unite against Racism” campaign at the Kingsway campus, where a pledge against racism was read and signed by students last week.

On Thursday, Rensburg said the university is planning to conduct a ”culture audit” in the middle of this year. This will be followed by a series of ”more focused interventions” with a cross-section of the university’s ”sub-communities”.

The university will also intervene to regulate the induction process for new residence students to try to curb abuse, including that which is racially motivated.

”The UJ recognises that the creation of a new value system and cultural ethos in our institution, as part of a broader transformation programme, is itself a journey. There will be varying interpretations as to the speed at which we can complete this journey,” he said. — Sapa